Entrepreneurs are passionate leaders with seemingly endless energy, helping to advance our world one brilliant idea at a time. Throughout my career, I’ve been humbled and honored to speak at conferences filled with entrepreneurs, and can literally feel their energy and drive when I’m on stage. Entrepreneurship is incredibly fulfilling, but it certainly comes with its own set of challenges.
I experienced my fair share of challenges while running my company, ImageOne. Fortunately, 25 years ago, I met Gino Wickman, the founder of EOS Worldwide and best-selling author of “Traction,” among many other books. Gino taught me and my team how to gain control of our business through the EOS process and it was the most impactful decision we ever made.
The two of us became dear friends over time and would meet a few times a year for a full afternoon to talk about life. I’m a curious person, so every time we would meet, I found myself asking questions aimed at learning how Gino was living his life. He was living an optimal life, filled with passion projects, travel and family time — all while bringing value to the world through his business. Over the years, Gino’s insight changed the way I manage my energy and gave me the tools necessary to maximize it. In 2021, he released The EOS Life, and as part of the book included a mini-book outlining these insights called “The 10 Disciplines for Managing and Maximizing Your Energy”
Below we’ll explore a few of The 10 Disciplines that both Gino and I use every day. These disciplines are fast, simple, powerful and fully customizable to your unique self. When proper effort is given to each, your energy boosts and you begin living your optimal life.
Know your 100%
Entrepreneurs go hard every single day – we create, we lead, we inspire – which is why it is important to have a clear work container that allows us to deliver our value, our genius, to the world. Knowing the perfect amount of hours and weeks we are able to deliver our value, our genius, to the world is critical. This is the amount of hours where if you work one hour less, you feel you’ve got more to give. One hour more, you’re teetering on burnout. Same idea with the number of weeks we work per year.
Understanding your work container and avoiding its capacity is vital to showing up as the best version of yourself. One Stanford study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when a person works more than 50 hours a week. After 55 hours, productivity drops so much that putting in any more hours would be pointless. The risk isn’t just lost productivity, but burnout that can take months to recover from. Remember, this is a study, so use it as a data point. You are unique and I encourage you to practice this discipline to determine your perfect amount of hours per week and weeks per year.
Putting this into action would look like setting aside time to check in with yourself each day. How many hours did you work that day and how did it make you feel? Tracking this over time can give you a sense of your 100%.
Now that you understand your limit, it’s time to bring that awareness into every part of your business. You’ll quickly find that every organizational decision is an opportunity to protect your 100%, like who you hire, how you structure your team or what meetings you accept or decline – and when.
Prepare every night
Simply stated, before your head hits the pillow, document the next day’s plan. Often, the day starts to get away from you and before you know it, it’s 4 p.m. and you’re still “richly scheduled,” as my friend Anese Cavanaugh would say. Instead, practice shifting your focus to planning for a productive day tomorrow. In fact, ending your day with a solid plan in place for tomorrow will help you get better sleep, generate better ideas and be fully present for meaningful parts of your personal life.
There is some science to this. Your brain sorts, consolidates and stores new information during sleep. It also rehearses recent memories, like that plan you put together and walked through for tomorrow. A recent study even showed that your brain is busy addressing unresolved problems while you sleep as well, so pushing a more complex task to the next day is actually a better game plan than pushing through.
Take time off
Taking time off is critical to protecting your creativity and energy, yet entrepreneurs end up clocking in more time than their teams while simultaneously taking less time off. In fact, 39% of business owners reported working more than 60 hours a week while the majority of owners (56%) also took fewer than 15 vacation days in a year.
As challenging as it may seem to take time off, it’s crucial to your success in life. Taking time off and not thinking about work, which includes not peeking at email, calling in to the office, reading business books or jotting down amazing ideas, may be difficult at first, but you’ll learn to enjoy this precious time to recharge your batteries and be fully present with your loved ones, your passions (if you have any!) and yourself. You should aim to take at least 130 days off every year.
Now, that might sound daunting, but when you factor in holidays, weekends and 15 vacation days, you’re already at about 130 days. As mentioned, the key is to be fully present during your time off (including those holidays and weekends), which means not thinking about work the entire day. And, while this may seem stressful (or maybe even impossible) at first, your mind will thank you.
Managing your energy has the power to transform your life. Practicing the above and putting proper effort behind these tips – and the rest of the 10 Disciplines – will help maximize your energy
By honoring and protecting your energy, you will allow your light to shine brighter than you ever thought possible, inching you closer toward living your optimal life.